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June 14, 2017

Muppet Babies, Tiny Toons, The Flintstone Kids—so many of these juvenile version of classic characters. More than you can even recall!

It was quite the strange cultural phenomenon in the ‘80s and early ‘90s—cartoons featuring old, well-known characters reimagined as kids. There were so many: MuppetBabies, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Yo Yogi!, James Bond Jr., Tiny Toon Adventures,The Flintstone Kids…and then also these less successful ones that have been almost totally forgotten.

The L’il Jetsons


George Jetson, the future Jane Jetson, and Cosmo Spacely are all nine years old and go to elementary school together. Also, the lovable Astro is just a little puppy, and it’s set during the global environmental apocalypse in which the earth was covered in both garbage and water from the polar ice caps melting off, explaining why all the buildings on The Jetsons were built 100 feet up in the air.

Flintstone Tweens


After the continued success of The Flintstones and The Flintstone Kids, producers milked the characters even further with this show about Fred, Barney, Betty,Wilma, and all the others during their time at Bedrock Junior High. Like most all junior high boys, Fred and Barney are gross and get random boners all the time. Because it’s a Flintstones property, they make tons of patented Flintstones-style rock puns about their boners.

Three Babies and a Baby


The silly domestic comedy Three Men and a Baby was the top-grossing movie of1987. As such, the Saturday morning cartoon version hit NBC in 1988, and, as it was the style at the time, it made the men tasked with taking care of the baby into babies as well. It reportedly “confused” and “upset” young viewers to see inept babies struggling to take care of another baby, and it was pulled off the air at midseason for a reboot.

Three Babies and a Man


When Three Babies and a Baby returned to NBC Saturday mornings in early 1989, producers had made some changes. The cardboard cutout of Ted Danson in the original film that many thought was the ghost of a dead boy was made into a full-on character, a friendly, skateboarding ghost named Dennis the Ghost. Also, the show stuck with keeping the three main characters as babies, but now they were tasked with having to look after a full-grown—but horrendously incompetent—adult man. This was also upsetting to children, and after three episodes the show was canceled and replaced with Saved by the Bell reruns.

Gotham Elementary


Before he was the “Dark Knight” fighting his “Rogue’s Gallery” of colorful criminals,Batman and all those bad guys apparently all went to the same school together, and they were friends who got up to all kinds of craaaaazy adventures. Among the characters were Batman, who was always tinkering with a gadget; The Joker, who was always playing a prank; The Riddler was the class clown; the Penguin was fat and ate all the time (this was acceptable in the ‘80s); Catwoman spoke only in cat puns (“Sounds purrrrfect to meeeow!”); and Scarecrow was always, as he said, “S-s-s-s-s-scaaaaaared!” Batman and his friends sure did get underPrincipal Gordon’s skin!

Happier Days


Richie, Ralph Malph, Potsie, Chachi, and all the other neat-o teens from the ‘50s-set Happy Days were ten years younger here, so it was the ‘40s. They all hang out in Arnold’s Clubhouse with their cool friend Fonzie, who can make the Victrola play the latest Benny Goodman number just by punching it! Fonzie is cool because he has a leather jacket, which he somehow obtained despite domestic leather shortages owing to it all going to the war effort.

The Young Cocoon Chronicles


Remember how in Cocoon, the aliens made all the old people act young but they still looked old? On The Young Cocoon Chronicles, they acted really young—like babies—but they remained in the bodies of old people. Nobody noticed the difference.

Muppet Babies Babies


Muppet Babies was a monster hit, so a spinoff was inevitable. MuppetBabies Babies was a lot like MuppetBabies, except instead of the characters living in a nursery where they were watched over by Nanny, they’re confined to their bassinets in a giant room full of other unwanted babies in a state-run orphanage. Also, they’re very young, so they don’t walk or talk yet. They pretty much just cry and sleep. The action of the show was filled out with touching, devastating, Orange is the New Black-style flashbacks that reveal why each of the Muppet Babies was given up by their parents.

How Muppet Babies Are Born


This series depicted, in graphic, minute-by-minute detail, the actual birth of each and every Muppet character from MuppetBabies. (Educators and creeps said the show was “very educational.”) Episodes varied wildly in content. Kermit’s was very brief and straightforward, as he swam out of his mother’s womb and into the swamp. Gonzo violently biting his way through a host body—an homage to Alien;Muppet Babies was always doing film parodies—was banned by CBS affiliates in Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Muppet Conception Stories


Producers started with microscope images of sperm swimming around, footage of eggs leaving the womb, and imagery of sperm fertilizing the eggs. Then they added in voiceovers from the different Muppet Babies characters to create a document that shows the moment of conception for Kermit, Miss Piggy, Scooter, and the rest. (“It must be breakfast time, because I need an egg! Wocka-wocka-wocka!”is a memorable line from the Fozzie episode.) The show was pulled after two episodes, but the complete series is still frequently screened in high school health classes to this day.

Muppets Happily BaskingIn A State of Pre-Existence In the Presence of Pure Love and Energy


Before you’re born, your spirit hangs out in Heaven all day. At least this was the supposition of this spinoff series in which the floating, vaguely recognizableMuppet-like wisps of light float around the sky. Occasionally their nanny, whom the Muppets call “The Everything,” checks in on them.